Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 11, 2020
A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:21-22
I’ve had the incredible privilege of walking with my wife through the birth of each of our three children. And as someone who played what we’ll call a “supportive role” in the delivery process, I’m hesitant to speak in any significant way about the pains of childbirth. As such, I can only partially understand the brilliance of Jesus’ choice of illustration in John 16. Yet as clearly as though it were yesterday, I remember the pain and anguish on my wife’s face, the doubts and fears certainly running through her mind at a million miles an hour. At the same time, I remember even more vividly the miracle of birth, the first cry of a newborn child made in the image of God and destined for eternity. I will never forget how the tears of pain upon my wife’s cheek were instantaneously mingled with tears of joy.
As the one through whom all things were made (John 1:3), Jesus had a perfect knowledge of the human condition. As the Word made flesh who dwelt among us (John 1:14), Jesus first hand knew what it was to hope and to fear, to suffer loss and to grieve. And as the incarnate Lord, he never once dismissed or discounted the reality of pain, yet he also refused to let it have the last word.
When Jesus says a mother “forgets the anguish” of childbirth, he is not saying she is no longer aware of the pain she endured or the significance of the challenge. If you doubt me on this, just ask any mother if they remember the pain of childbirth! And yet, does that pain persist as the defining reality of childbirth? Absolutely not. Joy puts sorrow in its proper place.
Jesus gives the illustration of childbirth as the proper lens through which we are meant to view every sorrow in life. Let the significance of that sentence sink in. Can you choose to believe that every sorrow you face has the potential to be redefined in the light of an even greater joy? Do you believe that every pain you endure can lead to a birth, a way in which the Kingdom of God breaks in and shines light on even the darkest of situations?
For a mother, the joy of childbirth is a path defined by pain. There’s simply no way around it. And yet motherhood is a gift from God that leads to unspeakable joy. Similarly, for each of us, a mother or not, life is filled with pain and sorrow. Yet just like a mother, it is a pain that leads to a birth. As Jesus himself reminds us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Father, help us to keep our eyes on the joy of your Kingdom, and to endure our troubles with hearts of faithful anticipation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
How can you begin to see your grief and sorrow as birth pains leading to the joy of the Lord?
Sorrow submitted to love leads to joy. #pain&joy #wisdomhunters #truth #Jesus
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